Re­vis­it­ing Con­ve­nience Cen­ters sug­gested

The Covington News - - LOCAL - DAR­RYL WELCH dwelch@cov­news.com

Late in Tues­day night’s marathon New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers (BOC) meet­ing, two mem­bers sug­gested the county’s Solid Waste Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity (SWMA) re­visit the Con­ve­nience Cen­ter pol­icy to de­ter­mine if the cen­ters left open work best for the county, while an­other two ex­pressed con­cerns about how the pub­lic has been in­formed about the changes.

“We re­ally need to take a look at the cen­ters that we have de­ter­mined are go­ing to re­main open and de­ter­mine if those are the still the ones we want to keep open, or if we need to al­ter some of them,” District 3 Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz said.

She cited the cen­ter on Stone Road, which she said is dif­fi­cult to get into and out of.

“I think we’re still in an eval­u­a­tion phase,” she said. “I’m not say­ing we are go­ing to open more cen­ters, we’re go­ing to keep the same num­ber. We just need to look at if we made the cor­rect de­ci­sion on the proper lo­ca­tion of the cen­ters. I think that’s still a work in progress.”

District 5 Com­mis­sioner Ron­nie Cowan asked the SWMA to look at its pol­icy on the cen­ters.

“I would just ask my col­leagues that are on the Solid Waste Au­thor­ity to re­visit that pol­icy on those,” he said. “I had sev­eral calls from peo­ple who live nearby those con­ve­nience cen­ters and the vol­ume of traf­fic since we closed some of the cen­ters has dou­bled around these peo­ple’s homes. More peo­ple are go­ing to fewer cen­ters.

“As a re­sult, we’ve got some trucks that are un­cov­ered and in these par­tic­u­lar ar­eas, there was a lot more trash go­ing up and down the road.”

District 1 Com­mis­sioner Stan Ed­wards said he has heard ci­ti­zen com­plaints about com­mu­ni­ca­tion about which cen­ters were closed and which were left open.

“I’ve got­ten nu­mer­ous com­plaints from the con­ve­nience cen­ter is­sues about our com­mu­ni­ca­tion about what was left open and what was closed,” he said. “Not just from one par­tic­u­lar per­son, but from sev­eral from my district over the last cou­ple of months.

“I think our com­mu­ni­ca­tion has to start at those con­ve­nience cen­ters when we do some­thing that im­pacts those cen­ters,” he said. “Our com­mu­ni­ca­tion has to start there and work out.”

District 2 Com­mis­sioner Lanier Sims echoed Ed­ward’s con­cerns.

“We need to get some type of ex­pla­na­tion on why signs weren’t put up. It just seems that noth­ing was planned,” he said. “We need an ex­pla­na­tion so we can have an­swers for our cit­i­zens.

“Peo­ple are run­ning around try­ing to fig­ure out which cen­ter to go to. We’ve got to do a bet­ter job.”

Schulz, Sims and BOC Chair­man Mar­cello Banes are also mem­bers of the SWMA.

Cit­ing safety con­cerns, mem­bers also de­ferred ac­tion on a pro­posal to change a county or­di­nance pro­hibit­ing out of county solid waste from be­ing dumped at the New­ton County land­fill.

The or­di­nance change, if ap­proved, would have given spe­cific per­mis­sion “for out of county solid waste to be dis­posed of at any County op­er­ated land­fill when (i) such waste can be safely and legally used as land­fill cover ma­te­rial; and (ii) such waste has been ac­cepted for use as land­fill cover ma­te­rial by the en­tity re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the land­fill.”

The pro­posal, pre­sented by at­tor­ney Sam VanVolken­burgh, would have al­lowed the land­fill to ac­cept waste from Pratt In­dus­tries in Cony­ers.

“Pratt In­dus­tries, a pa­per mill in Cony­ers, has of­fered to dis­pose of cer­tain ma­te­ri­als gen­er­ated as byprod­ucts from the pa­per mill at the land­fill,” he said.

VanVolken­burgh said nor­mally the land­fill would not con­sider ac­cept­ing ma­te­rial from out of county but this ma­te­rial can be used pro­duc­tively as an ad­di­tive to cover.

“So it wouldn’t ac­tu­ally be treated as solid waste. It would be used as cover,” he said.

VanVolken­burgh said the con­cern is if the ma­te­rial can be used for cover safely.

“I un­der­stand that Kevin Wal­ter (Solid Waste Man­ager) has spo­ken to the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Di­vi­sion (EPD) of the State and they think it can prob­a­bly be used safely, but they would like some test­ing done,” he said.

Sims said an or­di­nance change now was “putting the cart be­fore the horse.”

“I can’t hon­estly vote for some­thing un­til I get some­thing in writ­ing say­ing that this is safe,” he said. “At that point, I’d be will­ing to look at mod­i­fy­ing our out of county waste.

“But un­til we’ve got some­thing say­ing this is safe, I don’t see why we’d ap­prove this tonight when we don’t have an idea.”

VanVolken­burgh told com­mis­sion­ers the or­di­nance change was ex­pressly con­di­tional on the abil­ity to legally and safely use the ma­te­rial for cover.

Ed­wards said he was not in fa­vor of bring­ing waste from out of the county.

“I’m not in fa­vor of bring­ing any­thing from out­side the county. I don’t care if it’s gold,” he said. “I don’t see me sup­port­ing this at all.

“If we need land cover, don’t we have some land ad­ja­cent to the land­fill we can pull soil from?”

County Man­ager Lloyd Kerr said there is avail­able dirt to be used for cover, but the or­di­nance change would be ben­e­fi­cial to the SWMA.

“The ad­van­tage this would give to the Solid Waste Au­thor­ity is twofold. One, the fact that we could col­lect tip­ping fees,” he said. “Se­condly, if we were to have this com­ing in on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, it would re­duce the amount of cover that we would have to dig and haul which would make the op­er­a­tion a lit­tle more ef­fi­cient.”

Kerr said the or­di­nance change had the po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate $500,000 - $$750,000 an­nu­ally for the land­fill.

Cowan said com­mis­sion­ers did not need to be in a hurry to make the or­di­nance change.

“We don’t have to be in a hurry for this right now,” he said,” this is some­thing we can do a year from now, two years from now. Pratt is go­ing to be look­ing for a place to get rid of that stuff at any time.

“We’ve got other is­sues, I think, at the land­fill. We’ve got to put to­gether a new solid waste au­thor­ity and get it func­tion­ing and get some clear di­rec­tion on our solid waste man­age­ment.”

Com­mis­sion­ers voted to ta­ble the is­sue in­def­i­nitely.

Dar­ryl Welch | The Cov­ing­ton News

The con­ve­nience cen­ter at Cook Road re­mains closed.

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